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Feature: TV Zone's Primetime

Web Exclusive: Dragnet

Ethan Embry and Ed O’Neill

The most successful producer in television today, Dick Wolf, has come up with another winner for ABC.

No, not another in the never-ending Law and Order franchise, although the show is as familiar – Dragnet, which was last seen on TV over 30 years ago. Filmed on location in Los Angeles, this updated version of the classic crime series features Ed O’Neill, best known for his portrayal of Al Bundy in the series Married … with Children, as Detective Joe Friday.

“I remember the night the original Dragnet went on,” admits Wolf. “That’s what I grew up with. The DNA of that show is clearly the DNA of Law and Order. That’s why this is a ‘reconceptualization.’ If you look at the original Dragnet, there are episodes where there are literally five lines of dialogue; the entire show is a voiceover. You can’t do that today. An audience would not put up with it. The attitude was totally different. Jack Webb’s attitude is totally different than Ed’s in the show, but Ed should talk about that.”

“It’s me doing it instead of Jack Webb,” remarks O’Neill. “I couldn’t do it like Jack Webb if I tried. I wouldn’t be effective, so I’m just doing it my way.”

Unlike the original series, Joe Friday is now paired with a young detective, Frank Smith, played by Ethan Embry, who enthusiastically comments, “My knowledge of Dragnet is probably a testament to how huge the whole thing is. I’ve never seen an episode of the series, but I knew Joe Friday was the lead, and that his badge number was 714. I had heard the theme song a hundred times, but I didn’t tie it to Dragnet until I saw the first episode cut together. (singing) Dum da dum dum. ‘Are you kidding me? That’s Dragnet? I thought it was Mission: Impossible’”

Dick Wolf’s not shy about his expectations for the series. “Dragnet ran for a long time. We’d like to beat the original run.”

by Judy Sloane

Photo © ABC
Feature © Visual Imagination 2003. Not for reproduction

Taken from
TV Zone #160, see below for ordering options
TV Zone #160
March 2003
ships from Feb 6 2003
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